Like...couldn't you just make vegan cheese by getting milk from vegan cows? Y'know? Just feed the cows, like, only grass and hay and plants and other vegan stuff. Then you'd have milk from vegan cows, which, logically would be vegan milk, right? Why'd Trader Joe's have to go and use coconut milk and stuff?
Hopefully it goes without saying that I'm joking. But, unfortunately, in this day and age, it doesn't.
I'm here to tell you that even if you're not vegan or lactose-intolerant, this mac is edible, if nothing else. If the coronapocalypse shoppers have cleaned the local TJ's out of Joe's Diner Mac and Cheese and all the other lactose-laden varieties, you can go ahead and buy this one and at least give it a whirl. It doesn't quite have the comfort food quality of real mac and cheese, but there's a distinct creaminess and faint butternut squash flavor that's fairly pleasant in my opinion.
For vegans and dairy-free folks, this might be a game-changer. Sonia and I have tried "mozzarella" non-cheese before that we both found utterly revolting. That's not the case here at all. The unique blend of coconut milk, butternut squash, and various oils yields something unusual and cheese-esque, without trying too hard to make cheese out of stuff that is clearly not cheese.
Sonia noticed a slight oddness to the taste right at the finish. She said it wasn't like a lingering aftertaste, but just a hint of something that was a little out of place. I guess I might have noticed it, too, but it's extremely subtle. You'll get that when you mix five kinds of oils together. I'm telling you we just need to start milking vegan cows...
The macaroni were shell-shaped and larger than I'm used to in mac and cheese. They might have been slightly softer than most mac, too. You can heat on the skillet or in the microwave. We tried each one, both yielding very similar results.
Trader Joe's Vegan Mac doesn't have a super long shelf life and needs to be refrigerated, so it's not like it's great apocalypse food. Eat that perishable stuff while you still can. After the third week of rice and beans, people will start killing for stuff like fresh mac, vegan or not. $4.49 for the tub. I think you could get four good servings out of it, honestly, especially if it's just a side accompanying a larger meal.
Scoring this as lactose-loving non-vegans, we'll go with three and a half stars a piece.
Bottom line: 7 out of 10.